How to Have a Fearless Career
By Colleen Oakley
But fears at work can be particularly debilitating. What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough? What if the ground opens up and swallows my cubicle whole?
Letting fear get the best of you at your job can keep you from getting the recognition that you deserve—whether it hinders you from nabbing a promotion or stops you from applying for more challenging positions.
So what’s a timid (yet ambitious) person to do? We talked to successful CEOs, entrepreneurs and other go-getter titans at the top to hear about the take charge moves that got them ahead in their careers.
You should surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. If you partner with those who can elicit a debate and shed new light on things that you may never have thought of, it will make your idea, product or service that much stronger.
—Marc Sampogna, CEO/founder of Canopy Brand Group
I really hate the “I did it all by myself” style of business stories. Everyone either needs help—or has had help at some stage from someone. Years ago, I used to think that I was the epicenter of my success. It wasn’t until my business almost wasn’t a success that I realized I needed assistance from others. That’s when I learned that there’s no such thing as self-made. Not only is it important to have your own vision, but it’s equally important to understand the vision of those around you.
—Troy Hazard, entrepreneur and author of Future-Proofing Your Business
It may sound counterintuitive, but you can spend years analyzing every detail of your business plan and never pull the trigger. When intuition tells you that you have a winning idea—even if you don’t know every single detail—just get going on implementing it!
When my daughter, Ariana, and I launched Superstar Nail Lacquer, I had no idea how to manufacture and package the product. But I still started the business, figuring it out along the way—and it all came together quickly. In the past, I have missed out on some very big opportunities while waiting for the perfect conditions … but not anymore.
—Stacia Pierce, founder of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises
One of the best ways to get out of a career rut is to find a mentor or surround yourself with highly motivated people in your field. Sometimes all we need is to talk to someone who has been through the same circumstances. Encouragement is a great motivator—and having someone hold you accountable for progress can be the fuel that you need to achieve newer and loftier goals.
—Wendy McMonigle, owner of WM Design House
My motto? “Nothing great in life is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” I pride myself on my passion for my company and the energy that I bring to our office every day. If I’m excited, then I know it will be contagious. I really believe that’s what separates someone from being OK to being at a level of greatness.
—Chad Johnson: CEO/founder of Lady Jane’s
Don’t Be Afraid to … Make Mistakes
Entrepreneurs often share stories of how they started a company or organization in their garage—and then it magically became a multimillion-dollar company overnight. But they skip over the hard parts: the sleepless nights, the obstacles and the mistakes made along the way. When I started my company, what kept me going is how I chose to look at those mistakes. A failure is only a true failure if you don’t learn from what it has to teach you.
—David Simnick, CEO and cofounder of SoapBox Soaps
Don’t Be Afraid to … Trust Your Instinct
My best advice? Do what feels right for you. Each of us have different motivators that make us happy, and if you understand those, you’ll create a career that’s meaningful. If it’s money that motivates you, you might make different decisions than someone who’s driven by helping others.
You can’t make a bad decision—unless you do something unethical!—so long as it moves you in the direction that fills you up. And if you start down a path that turns out to be wrong, you can always course-correct. That’s the power of being fearless.
One of the best ways to get out of a career rut is to find a mentor or surround yourself with highly motivated people in your field.
When Louisiana State University students Kenny Nguyen and Gus Murillo heard that a key executive at a Fortune 500 company was speaking on campus, both rushed to attend. Instead of feeling inspired, they felt bored. 200 slides of nothing but text left these two college buddies thinking there has to be a better presentation platform. These thoughts quickly turned in to the business, Big Fish Presentations. Big Fish specializes in making presentations that captivate their audiences. Kenny and Gus have revolutionized the presentation industry and created their own successful business that works closely with many Fortune 500 companies.
In Anothers Words
“Fear of failure and fear of success are one in the same. Both are fear of exposure. Not of our strengths but of our weaknesses.”
– Kevin W. McCarthy, Author